8BITDO NES30 Pro Wireless Bluetooth Controller.

8bitdo NES30 Pro Wireless Bluetooth Controller Review

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If you’re a Switch player looking for an extra controller, you might be looking at the 8Bitdo NES30 Pro Wireless Bluetooth controller, which sells for $42.99 on Amazon and ships free with Prime. This retro controller resembles the classic NES model with a few changes. Its sleek, well-built, modernized design is rounded rather than boxed and features

  • L1/L2 and Z1/Z2 buttons,
  • D pad,
  • Left and Right joysticks,
  • Start & Select buttons, and
  • Home & Screenshot buttons.
Side-by-side comparison of the 8Bitdo with the original NES controller.
Side-by-side comparison of the 8Bitdo with the original NES controller.

The 8Bitdo features excellent presentation in its packaging and is a joy to unbox. The controller itself comes swaddled in black foam on top of the box, and beneath this top layer are two sturdy paperboard boxes, which contain a keychain and a cord that can be used for charging and/or connectivity.

The top box contains a cool keychain, and the bottom box contains a cord that you can use for charging and/or connectivity.
The top box contains a cool keychain, and the bottom box contains a cord that you can use for charging and/or connectivity.

This controller is perfect for retro-style side-scrolling games like Shovel Knight and puzzle games like Puyo Puyo Tetris, and I’m excited to try it with actual retro games when Nintendo releases Virtual Console titles for the Switch. Of course, you can also use this controller to play wirelessly on your PC; I tried it with Super Mario World on the PC and it worked flawlessly.

The 8Bitdo also works well as a P2 controller for multiplayer games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. But how does it play with single-player games for Switch, like Breath of the Wild? You can certainly use the 8bitdo to play BoTW, but I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re looking for an interesting challenge. While all the buttons you need are there, their placement is hard to get used to—especially the L1/L2 and Z1/Z2 buttons, which are placed side-by-side to accommodate the 8Bitdo’s super-sleek design. (It’s just as thin as the original NES controller: 1.6 cm, or 5/8 of an inch!)

View of L1/L2 and R1/R2 buttons.
The 8Bitdo L1/L2 and R1/R2 buttons are placed side-by-side, which is tricky to get used to.
The 8BITDO's Home and Screenshot buttons are located on the controller's bottom, and their left/right positions are oddly reversed from the Joy Con Grip and the Pro Controller.
The 8Bitdo’s Home and Screenshot buttons are located on the controller’s bottom, and their left/right positions are oddly reversed from their positions on the Joy Con Grip and Pro Controller.

Plus, the 8Bitdo just isn’t as comfortable as the Pro Controller. I’ve played BoTW marathons of more than 12 hours with the Pro, and I just couldn’t do that with the 8Bitdo, which becomes uncomfortable for me after only 30 minutes of play. And, while the 8Bitdo and Pro are both Wireless and Bluetooth compatible, the 8Bitdo just can’t beat the ease of the Pro, which connects seamlessly with no nonsense. With the 8Bitdo, you have to learn certain combinations of button-pressing to connect it to your chosen device, and different buttons are used for different systems. And of course, the 8Bitdo can’t be used to wake up your Switch like the Pro can.

Side-by-side comparison of the 8BITDO and the Pro Controller.
Side-by-side comparison of the 8Bitdo and the Pro Controller. You might be able to see how the Pro would fit more comfortably in your hands.

And so, if you’re looking for a new primary controller to replace your Joy Con Grip, the 8Bitdo is probably not for you, and I’d recommend the Pro instead. But if you already have a Pro Controller and are looking for yet another controller for enhanced multiplayer play, the 8Bitdo just might be for you. Then again, if you can spare the extra $27, I actually recommend buying a second Pro Controller instead; it’s superior in every way and definitely worth the extra money. But if you’re feeling nostalgic and desire a controller with a sleek retro feel, then the 8Bitdo is definitely for you, and you can pick one up right here!

Finally, I want to note that, while this controller is compatible with Android, PC, Mac, and Linux, it only recently became compatible with Switch thanks to a simple firmware update. However, our review product came with the update pre-installed, so I can’t walk you through the update process. It’s also possible that your controller could arrive with the update pre-installed like ours was. If you want more information about the 8bitdo’s compatibility with Switch and the firmware update, please visit their support page.

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